The Affordable Care Act tries to encourage different parts of the health care system to work better together. A patient’s experience of a disjointed system between doctors, hospitals, nursing facilities and home health causes undue stress and confusion for the patient and their family.
In response to the ACA and the needs of patients, hospitals and other health care providers have been working hard to provide more integrated care. Sometimes this happens through provider referral agreements, shared electronic medical records, and formal and informal affiliations. One way to accomplish this goal is to formally affiliate with a hospital, system, or physician group. State and federal laws already have review processes to ensure that such partnerships do not reduce competition in the region or violate anti-trust laws.
Most of the affiliations in Washington are the result of a smaller hospital or physician groups looking for a larger partner that can bring needed resources and services to the community. Sometimes such partnerships are necessary to maintain access to care in the community. That’s why those decisions are best made at the local level.
However, HB 1811 would create a significant burden for health care providers — not just for mergers and purchases, but for almost any kind of “material change,” including such things as contracted services. Despite the laws currently in place, this bill would institute a new process that would require complicated documentation and review. The net effect would be to discourage affiliations among providers that can strengthen local provider practices and hospital services.
WSHA opposes this bill. (Zosia Stanley)
House Judiciary Committee: Wednesday, February 15, 8 a.m.